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Energies 2019, 12(4), 593; https://doi.org/10.3390/en12040593

Exploring the Causes of Power-Converter Failure in Wind Turbines based on Comprehensive Field-Data and Damage Analysis

1
Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy Systems (Fraunhofer IWES), 30159 Hannover, Germany
2
Fraunhofer Institute for Silicon Technology (Fraunhofer ISIT), 25524 Itzehoe, Germany
3
Institute for Drive Systems and Power Electronics IAL, Leibniz University Hannover, 30167 Hannover, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 December 2018 / Revised: 1 February 2019 / Accepted: 11 February 2019 / Published: 13 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Wind, Wave and Tidal Energy)
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Abstract

Power converters are among the most frequently failing components of wind turbines. Despite their massive economic impact, the actual causes and mechanisms underlying these failures have remained in the dark for many years. In view of this situation, a large consortium of three research institutes and 16 companies, including wind-turbine and component manufacturers, operators and maintenance-service providers has joined forces to identify the main causes and driving factors of the power-converter failures in wind turbines to create a basis for effective remedial measures. The present paper summarizes and discusses the results of this research initiative, which have been achieved through the evaluation of converter-specific failure and operating data of a large and diverse worldwide wind-turbine fleet, field measurements as well as post-mortem investigation of returned converter components. A key conclusion of the work is that the thermal-cycling induced fatigue of bond-chip contacts and die-attach solder, which is a known issue in other fields of power-electronics applications and which has been widely assumed to be the principle damage mechanisms also in wind turbines, is no relevant contributor to the observed converter failures in this application. Instead, the results indicate that environmental factors such as humidity and contamination but also design and quality issues as well as human errors play an important part in the incidence of these failures. View Full-Text
Keywords: reliability; power electronics; power converter; wind power; root-cause analysis; post-mortem analysis; field data reliability; power electronics; power converter; wind power; root-cause analysis; post-mortem analysis; field data
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Fischer, K.; Pelka, K.; Puls, S.; Poech, M.-H.; Mertens, A.; Bartschat, A.; Tegtmeier, B.; Broer, C.; Wenske, J. Exploring the Causes of Power-Converter Failure in Wind Turbines based on Comprehensive Field-Data and Damage Analysis. Energies 2019, 12, 593.

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